About the authors:
Padmaja Shastri is a journalist with over two decades of experience – 11 years out of which, she was a business correspondent for leading publications like The Times of India and The Financial Express. In these positions, she regularly interacted with captains of industry. Shastri started her career as the Publications Officer with the National Institute of Naturopathy, Ministry of Health and Family Welfare, Government of India. Here, she brought out a bilingual monthly journal on Naturopathy and Indian systems of medicine. She currently freelances for various publications on issues of business and higher education. An avid collector of clay dolls from across the world, she also collects scale models of automobiles, Ganesha idols, stamps, currency notes and coins. Shastri, who has a Masters in Psychology and a post-graduate degree in journalism, is also a Rotarian and is involved in community development and social work.
Venkatraman Pichumani is a seasoned and accomplished marathon runner who has been running half marathons each month for the last five years. A Chartered Accountant by education, he was a BPO entrepreneur, who has exited his enterprises. Pichumani now devotes his full-time energy to promoting running for good health under the banner of YouTooCanRun. A cardiac bypass patient, he is an inspirational role model and an evangelist for good health. As a motivational speaker, he is known to convert sedentary individuals into taking the path of regular running for fitness. A mentor to budding entrepreneurs, Pichumani is an angel investor and regular judge at various business plan competitions. He is also an active Freemason and a ham radio operator.
My life is full of miracles. It was nothing short of a miracle that I was finally able to walk at the age of 10.
It was an even a bigger miracle that I ran a full marathon at the age of 100 and one more at the age of 101. My legs were not strong enough when I was a child. I crawled till the age of four and I began walking properly only at the age of 10. The next seventy years of my life were very regular. I did everything I was expected to do. I got married, was blessed with children and later, grandchildren; worked on the farm and tended to cattle.
My life turned upside down when I lost my wife at the age of 81. Around the same time, one of my daughters died while giving birth. But my final blow came when I witnessed my son’s death in 1994. I had plunged into depression and lost all will to live. To overcome my grief and loneliness, I went on to live with my younger son in England. There, I began to take part in sprint events that the local Sikh community organizes annually to mark the martyrdom of the fifth Sikh Guru, Guru Arjan. A marathon event on TV made me want to take part in one myself. I ran my first full marathon at the age of 89. Over the next 13 years, I ran nine full marathons among many other races across the globe. I had never set out to achieve anything. Running changed my life. From an illiterate farmer in a Punjab village, I became a sought after global sports icon. Running made me feel like a winner!
It is winners like me who have featured in this book. B R Hariharan started running at the age of 59, proving that your age is no reason to not run. Aashish Sachdeva didn’t let anything weigh him down either, not even his own weight of 140 kilos. Kiran Kanojia proves that losing a leg can in no way stop you from running. Amarjeet Singh Chawla may be blind, but his vision to run against all odds is inspiring. Natasha Tuli was back on the road within months of a major brain surgery while Paromita Aher fought cancer before she hit the road. Poverty did not take away from Binod Tamang his love for running while Shetanshudhar Sharma got out of the labyrinth of alcohol and marijuana addiction just by running. Even an angioplasty did not hold back cardiac patient Hasmukh Shah. Do not hold yourself back, either.
Don’t run just to be fit or to lose weight. Run to liberate yourself. Run to find yourself. It will also keep you alive and healthy for as long as you live. Don’t just read this book and be full of awe. Push your boundaries, like the people in this book did. Be inspired, motivate yourself and just go out and run. I still do at the age of 104.
Widely acknowledged as the world’s oldest and
fastest runner in his category is a hero for runners –
young and old – across the world